Omaha City Council Outlines Its Budget Fix

By: Gary Smollen Email
By: Gary Smollen Email

Yesterday they rejected the proposed entertainment tax, today five members of the City Council presented their own 2010 budget.

The council refuses to raise taxes, unless there are no other options, and then only as a last resort.

The heart of the council member's 2010 proposed budget is the furlough. Employees voluntarily taking unpaid leave, how long of a break has yet to be determined.

If the numbers in this are right, it could save many jobs and programs that now are on the chopping block.

Tuesday's City Council vote killing the proposed entertainment tax left Omaha millions of dollars in debt, with no existing plan to come up with the money.

Chuck Sigerson says, "No department would be off limits."

Wednesday morning five members of the city council presented a proposed 2010 budget they have been working on for weeks.

Pete Festersen says, "A main feature of this plan is a $7.8 million furlough of all city employees including police and fire this will be a rolling furlough proposition, has to be negotiated that's an important point."

Under the council's plan, the furloughs would be like an unpaid vacation, two weeks time, split up over the next calendar year.

The alternate may be to increase the number of proposed lay-offs of city employees.

Chuck Sigerson says, "I think almost everyone in the city government would say hey, I’d rather take a Friday off and keep my benefits than get laid off and maybe never be given the opportunity to come back."

At first glance the council's proposed budget seems to share to burden of balancing the budget better than some others, but large portions of the plan will have to be negotiated.

Still Mayor Jim Suttle seemed interested in working with the council and its proposal.

Mayor Jim Suttle says, "Let's look at this proposal that they've rolled out today the only thing I ask is that we look at real numbers and that we follow the law and be honest with ourselves on what we're doing."

What the mayor's office and city council will be doing is looking for the best way out of an economic nightmare.

There seems to be a lot of interest in the council's proposed budget, there are a number of questions that remain.

City finance will take a look to see that the numbers are correct. Legal to make sure no contracts or commitments violated.

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